Denise Hearn dives into world-scale economic problems in new book, The Myth of Capitalism
After piquing her interest in global social issues while completing her MBA at Oxford Saïd, Denise Hearn wanted to understand why modern American capitalism was failing the majority. Workers struggle with stagnant wages while inequality grows, productivity and investment are at decade lows, and yet corporate profits have never been higher. She wanted to know: what was causing this divergence?
I’ve always been interested in economic justice and social justice more broadly,’ says Hearn, but her time at Oxford magnified her interests. She ran the Social Impact Oxford Business Network and took part in the MBA Global Threats and Opportunities (GOTO) project while at the School. Her experience here ‘was incredibly positive in terms of how I thought about social change, and it really sharpened my understanding of how complex challenges should be approached.’
After the MBA, Hearn joined a macroeconomic investment strategy firm, Variant Perception, that advises the world’s top hedge funds and family office investors. In discussions with her colleague Jonathan Tepper, founder of the firm, they both concluded that something structural had changed in the economy.
In the early stages of her employment with Variant Perception, she simultaneously attended a programme at The Banff Centre in Canada which aimed to address the systematic drivers of inequality. ‘It was really interesting to have those two experiences at the same time,’ says Hearn. With this seed of an idea, Hearn and Tepper began their detective work ‘to understand why we are in the state we are in today’.
The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition is the result of this work. From studying academic papers and other resources, the authors found that the economy has become increasingly concentrated in all major industries following a wave of mergers. Now nearly every aspect of daily life is influenced by large, dominant firms. The book synthesizes comprehensive academic research in an accessible way, using tangible examples people can relate to like: airlines, beer, and digital companies like Google and Facebook. The authors argue that capitalism without competition is not capitalism.